This is a context from an Anime that I'm watching. One of the characters is citing a passage from the Bible (I'm not sure if it is a verbatim citation). He talks about the story of Noah. The following sentence is after he depicted the great flood and the fact that the only survivors were people in the boat (no, he didn't mention anything about all the fish in the ocean:)). He is saying what God did afterward:

"Then he sent a dove to see if the waters had abated from the surface of the ground"

Research: TFD def for the word "abate"

  1. To fall off in degree or intensity; subside: waiting for the rain to abate Synonyms for the word "subside"

The first definition conveys only the meaning of decreasing in intensity but the word subside, it mentions, is also a synonym for the words: drop, fall, decline, ebb, descend(source TFD)

My questions are:

  1. Can the word "abate" be also used as a word subside as in a sentence "Local officials say the flood waters have subsided"?
  2. If that's the case does the sentence "abated from the surface of the earth" mean that the water dropped to a lower level until disappearing completely?

1 Answer 1


"Abated" does mean "lessened", or "to become less strong". So, in your context it would not mean that the waters had disappeared completely, just that they had lessened. You could therefore use the word "receded" or "subsided" in its place.

I recognise the text as being from Genesis 8:8 - as any English language version of this verse is a rendering of the original language, you might find it useful to compare different translations. Among the versions on Biblehub, renderings include 'receded', 'abated' and 'subsided', but one renders it in even more simple language saying "to see if the water was low".

Saying that waters are abating does not necessarily imply that they will dry up completely. Floods are normally an excess of water, such as when a river swells. The flooding might dry up completely, but the original source of water might not. This isn't really an appropriate place to debate what is meant by the Genesis account, but you might want to research what bible scholars say about the source of the flood waters.

  • To answer Question 1, I don't think we would talk about flood waters abating in practical terms, only with a conscious reference to Genesis in the King James Bible - but we might speak of a storm abating. Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 14:15

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